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The institutional memory hypothesis and the procyclicality of bank lending behaviour

  • Allen N. Berger

    (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System - Monetary, Financial Studies Section)

  • Gregory F. Udell

    (Indiana University Bloomington - Department of Finance)

Stylised facts suggest that bank lending behaviour is highly procyclical. We offer a new hypothesis that may help explain why this occurs. The institutional memory hypothesis is driven by deterioration in the ability of loan officers over the bank.s lending cycle that results in an easing of credit standards. This easing of standards may be compounded by simultaneous deterioration in the capacity of bank management to discipline its loan officers and reduction in the capacities of external stakeholders to discipline bank management. We test the empirical implications of this hypothesis using data from individual US banks over the period 1980-2000. We employ over 200,000 observations on commercial loan growth measured at the bank level, over 2,000,000 observations on interest rate premiums on individual loans, and over 2,000 observations on credit standards and bank-level loan spreads from bank management survey responses. The empirical analysis provides support for the hypothesis.

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Paper provided by Bank for International Settlements in its series BIS Working Papers with number 125.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bis:biswps:125
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  9. Acharya, Viral V & Yorulmazer, Tanju, 2003. "Information Contagion and Inter-Bank Correlation in a Theory of Systemic Risk," CEPR Discussion Papers 3743, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Allen N. Berger & Gregory F. Udell, 1994. "Did risk-based capital allocate bank credit and cause a "credit crunch" in the United States?," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 585-633.
  11. Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "A Memory-Based Model Of Bounded Rationality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 735-774, August.
  12. Altman, Edward I. & Saunders, Anthony, 2001. "An analysis and critique of the BIS proposal on capital adequacy and ratings," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 25-46, January.
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  23. Allen N. Berger & Margaret K. Kyle & Joseph M. Scalise, 2000. "Did U.S. bank supervisors get tougher during the credit crunch? Did they get easier during the banking boom? Did it matter to bank lending?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-39, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  24. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
  25. Jianping Mei & Anthony Saunders, 1997. "Have U.S. Financial Institutions' Real Estate Investments Exhibited "Trend-Chasing" Behavior?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(2), pages 248-258, May.
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  27. Ayuso, Juan & Perez, Daniel & Saurina, Jesus, 2004. "Are capital buffers pro-cyclical?: Evidence from Spanish panel data," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 249-264, April.
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